Arkansas Healthcare

Arkansas Senate
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers are to formally adjourn the bi-annual fiscal session of the legislature Monday, with a general consensus that it was a productive, bi-partisan effort.

Last week included passage of a formal budget for the coming fiscal year. The start of the session saw debate and eventually approval of legislation to allow Arkansas to accept federal healthcare dollars to continue the state's Medicaid expansion plan, providing coverage for more than a quarter million low income residents.

Steps leading up the Arkansas Senate chamber.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

An attempt in the Arkansas Senate on Tuesday to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto – that allowed for Medicaid expansion to continue – failed on a voice vote. Many on both sides expected the veto override move to fall short of the needed majority since nearly all of the lawmakers who sent the budget bill to the governor's desk- knowing in advance he planned to veto the provision that would end Medicaid expansion - were supporters of his Arkansas Works plan.

Arkansas House of Representatives.
ArkansasHouse.org

Governor Asa Hutchinson used a line item veto on Thursday afternoon to ensure the continuation of Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. The veto was part of a procedural maneuver meant to work around the resistance of a minority of Republicans blocking funding for the insurance program. It benefits over 267,000 low-income Arkansans.

Earlier on Thursday, the House of Representatives narrowly secured the three-fourths vote the funding bill needed for passage on a 76-13 vote.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has approved the wording of a measure to limit lawsuit damages awarded against health care providers, clearing the way for supporters to try and put the proposal on the November ballot. 

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

The Arkansas Senate has approved a plan to preserve the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion, backing an unusual tactic that required supporters to initially vote to end the subsidized health coverage. 

The floor of the Arkansas Senate.
Arkansas.gov

Backers of Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion plan are expected to try again this week to overcome the resistance of a minority of Republican lawmakers and pass a budget bill. 

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and legislative leaders are trying to persuade wary Democrats to back a plan to save Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion by initially voting to defund the subsidized health coverage for thousands of poor people.

Arkansas House of Representatives.
ArkansasHouse.org

A contingency budget drafted by Arkansas legislative leaders suggests cuts to various state agencies if funding for the state’s Medicaid expansion plan does not pass during the fiscal session.

The state faces a potential $122 million shortfall if the Medicaid expansion is not reauthorized for fiscal year 2017. Federal dollars available under the expansion go to fund private health insurance policies for the state’s poor. The policy was reapproved in last week’s special legislative session and rebranded “Arkansas Works." It had previously been known as the “Private Option.”

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers are taking a long weekend after hitting a budget standoff over the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

House and Senate leaders on Thursday said they're recessing until Tuesday afternoon. The announcement follows the Medicaid budget bill funding the hybrid expansion failing to win the 27 votes needed in the Senate.

An alternate plan aimed at allowing the governor to reinstate the program if it's not included in Medicaid's budget has also stalled, and House Democrats say they don't want to vote on any other budget bills until the impasse is resolved.

Jonathan dismang
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Republican opponents of Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion have blocked funding for the expanded coverage and a host of other programs for the poor and disabled.

The Senate on Thursday voted 25-10 in favor of the Medicaid budget bill funding the hybrid expansion, two votes shy of the 27 needed for passage. It was unclear when supporters would try another vote on the bill, and the Senate sent the measure back to the Joint Budget Committee.

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